Best Places to Fly Your Drone in the U.S.


Photo Credit: Wix Stock Library

If you follow drone pilots on social media, your feed is probably flooded with images of far-off lands with rarely-seen coasts and magical skylines. You may have even seen news about the latest drone racing championships held over seas on your timeline. While there are many things to see and do with a drone in other countries, the U.S. is also the land of opportunity. Innovative uses for UAVs are popping up in different industries all over the country, and America has it's own treasures visible with a bird's-eye view.

Using a combination of the Consumer Technology Association's Innovation Scoreboard, geography, and social media, I have created a list of what could be considered the best places to fly in the U.S.A. These places have beautiful sights, drone innovations, and few regulations (or none) for recreational pilots. As a disclaimer, even though these states may not have significant statewide regulations for drones, federal regulations still apply and cities can have their own local laws regarding UAVs. Always ensure that flying is legal wherever you intend to do so.

Photo Credit: Wix Stock Library

MONTANA

Montana has a few state laws limiting the use of drones, but only one that affects the recreational use of drones: HB 0644, which prohibits using UAS to interfere with wildfire suppression efforts. Commerically, drones are being carefully integrated into the state’s agricultural practices.

Montana is naturally beautiful and has many visually interesting sites. For example, the Anaconda Smelter Stack, a structure that stands at 585 feet, appear fantastical with its intimidating stature. Montana also has natural beauties like Bitterroot Valley, Mystic Lake, and mountain ranges.

A few years ago, Bitterroot Valley was also the founding location of a drone startup: Flight Evolved. Flight Evolved was founded by two entrepreneurs in Hamilton, Montana, which is in the valley's center, and it provides inspection, imaging, and mapping services.

Photo Credit: Wix Stock Library

ALASKA

Alaska has no state laws restricting consumer usage of drones, making it an ideal place for flight and drone innovation. Some Alaskan schools are even incorporating drones into their curriculum to prepare students for the “growing business applications”. Alaska's only state drone law limits how law enforcement, i.e. Alaska's UAV task force, can use drones.

Alaska also has an aesthetic appeal. It has a vast photogenic landscape with mountains, ice, bodies of water, and a gorgeous night sky. This makes it an ideal location for photography and videography. A popular location for pilots is Prince William Sound where you can get footage of the water and marine life. Prince William Sound College even has a sUAS class, which is receiving funding from a University of Alaska Statewide Workforce Program grant.

Video Credit: AkxPro

ARKANSAS

Arkansas is also relaxed in the realm of drone legislation, having only two state laws regarding drone use: it’s illegal to “use a drone to record someone who has a reasonable expectation of privacy” and to use UAS to “collect information about or photographically or electronically record information about critical infrastructure without consent”.

Arkansas’ rural geography makes it an attractive state for drone photography. A popular site for pilots are the Ozark Mountains and Royal Gorge Bridge. The Ozark mountains are especially popular with several drone videos on YouTube and a website dedicated them. There’s even a website dedicated to drones in Arkansas called “Drones Over Arkansas”. Their website features news, photography, videos, and recommended gear.

Video Credit: Ozark Drones

These are just a few of the best places to fly drones for a variety of reasons. Your personal favorite may not have made the list, but keep sharing your photos and videos and telling everyone why you love it. Maybe we'll cover why you're spot's the best in another post.

I am a writer and an artist based in Georgia. Specializing in illustration, graphic design, and video art, I love to explore the new ways technology intersects with art. I think drones have done amazing things for photography and video art, making what would previously be costly and difficult more accessible. As a complete novice, it was only recently that I saw what independent artists could do with their drones, and I continue to be impressed by the sights that drones are able to explore and the images they can capture. Instagram: @tyesha.ferron

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